Archive for November, 2012

Notes from the Journey with David – 140

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

140. Be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires (1 Kings 2:2).

That’s what a man is–one who submits himself as a servant to the will of the One who is greater. David doesn’t define manhood as being self-driven or self-sufficient, but instead points his son to be a man by making the choice to obey God. The passage goes on to promise prosperity and blessing for such obedience, but no one can make this decision for Solomon. He must choose the path he will take and he must decide whose life pattern he will follow. There will be many pressures for him to follow various paths, but he can best express his manhood by choosing what others won’t choose–the path laid out by God.


Categories: Leadership Journeys

The Brotherhood – Part 70

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

This week, my wife and I are watching our eldest son, his wife, and our two-year old granddaughter make their trek to the West Coast, where they will take up life in Vancouver, Washington. God has blessed them with a great opportunity and we are excited for the life ahead of them…but that’s a long way from here.

Watching your kids spread their wings brings many emotions. Pride–a healthy kind–tops the list. When your life together stirs your kids toward a global vision, you find their pursuit of a larger world very satisfying. Some prefer to keep their kids within the boundaries of their own reach, but we’ve tried to live a broader life. Missions trips, ministry travel, and a steady focus on the worldwide kingdom of God teaches our children that there’s a world out there that’s broader than their current zip code. So when they choose life in a distant place, there’s a certain amount of pride in their brave and expanded pursuit of excellence.

Watching them board airplanes isn’t easy. I’ll do that later today as I put my daughter-in-law and granddaughter on a Southwest flight to Portland, where my son already awaits. Knowing you’ll be a cross-country flight or a three-day drive from your kids wil bring a lump to any tough guy’s throat and I’m sure I’ll fight tears on the trip to and from the airport, but they won’t be tears of regret, just reality. At least I’ll have FaceTime and other techno gadgets to let me watch their lives unfold on a regular basis.

Watching them go isn’t easy, but those who achieve great exploits usually have to leave their yard (I know, Steve Jobs created Apple in his garage, but you get my point). Living your best in a shrinking global village means your life may be lived on edges your parents never reached. You can settle for less, but ignoring life’s opportunities usually births its own growing pile of regret.

I’ll survive this emotional day (and will likely live others as my younger son’s future takes shape, then the grandkids, etc.). It will be thoughts of potential and challenge and excellence that will help me sleep tonight. When you raise your kids to pursue life’s very best and to chase the best paths that open before them, it makes days like today important and meaningful.

Love you, Tyler, Katie, and Molly. Give ’em heaven out there…

Notes from the Journey with David – 139

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

139. When the time came near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon, his son (1 Kings 2:1).

Taking time to hand-off the leadership baton is critical for good leadership. You can’t expect your successor to make good decisions for the future if he or she lacks the information needed from the past. New leaders have every right to go their own way, but they need to be equipped with good information so they don’t make decisions in ignorance. Often, there is not a natural opportunity to have such a conversation, but a good leader needs to find a way to communicate the thinking behind his most critical decisions or provide good information to the issues that are arising on the new leader’s horizon. Such an effort requires wisdom and grace, but it can save the new leader from significant mistakes.


Categories: Leadership Journeys

Five Questions People are Asking When They Visit Your Church – 4

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the what people are wondering when they visit your church. As we have said, the questions have changed. Once, people wondered what the music was like oe if the preaching was any good. But these issues only matter to churched people. The folks we are trying to reach have something else on their mind.

Already, we’ve discussed the first three questions: 1) Can I find friends here? 2) Is this a safe place? and 3) Will this place add value to my life? Now, let’s look at the fourth question. Can this place help my life matter?

Significance is the desperate hope of fragmented people. They’ve lost confidence in the more traditional ways of finding life’s meaning and are searching for some way to make a difference. So when they come into church, they aren’t looking to get busier with a bunch of new programs and events. They are, however, looking for ways to make their life count.

Interestingly, the mindset has changed significantly. Baby-boomers have brought the “bigger is better” attitude with them to church for years, but a new generation doesn’t think this way. They don’t see that compiling our resources will help us do bigger things. They simply want to make a difference, even if it seems small by baby-boomer standards. This shift in thinking presents enormous challenges to the next decade of church life as missions giving and large investments in facilities struggle to maintain current levels. Younger people aren’t impressed with bigger and they don’t want to be a small cog in a wheel that imperceptibly turns. They want to matter–and “smaller ponds make the fish feel bigger.”

Today, younger people want to be involved. They don’t just want to write checks. They care about projects and specific missionaries. They want to go and participate, rather than stay at home and send somebody else.

Here’s some realities that shape their thinking:

First, even unchurched people have ideas of what a church should be doing. The days of caring for spiritual needs while ignoring suffering and injustice in every day life are over for the local church. If you aren’t trying to help the people right in front of you, today’s unchurched person will write you off as a social club–and maybe they should.

Helping people is what unchurched people think the church should be doing. And if they visit your church to find you are only caring for the folks in the building, well, they won’t commit to that.

You have to be making a difference in the social needs around you. As a pastor, I saw this so plainly when some of my young adults asked if they could use a small part of our property to plant a community garden. They wanted to grow vegetables for people in need. My baby-boomer thinking couldn’t envision how they could make even a small dent in the need of our city, but I said yes. That year (and the next) I watched as dozens came to participate. Though only enough vegetables to help a couple of dozen families were harvested, the level of participation in the effort was extraordinary. And the joy it brought to these gardeners was beyond anything I could imagine. They wanted to make a difference, even if others might think the impact was small. It wasn’t small for the families they helped.

Remember that purpose drives participation. If I know why we are doing something, I’m far more likely to buy into that purpose and make the effort a priority. People follow vision, so where there is a vision to make a difference, people will give their best.

And frankly, nothing is more important in discipleship tan involvement. People grow as they do. If discipleship at your church is only a classroom experience, you’re not going to get very far in the work of making disciples. The real lessons are learned “out there” where the importance of message and ministry meet the pavement.

People are very busy with their own lives. But if you give them an opportunity to invest a few hours in something that really matters, they will jump at the chance. Those who want to simply write a check so others can do the work are a dying breed. Today, people want their lives to matter and they want to see the impact of the work of their hands.

A final note. Don’t assume that every point of involvement your church offers will fill the bill. If the effort doesn’t seem to matter beyond our own little circle, the people won’t find it satisfying for long. Open the door to real opportunities to make a difference and you’ll likely be surprised how quickly people sign up.

It’s what they’re looking for–a chance to feel their lives matter…

Notes from the Journey with David – 138

November 21, 2012 Leave a comment

138. If he shows himself to be a worthy man, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground (1 Kings 1:52).

Adonijah had tried to fill the void David left on Israel’s throne. But now David has filled the slot with Solomon and Adonjiah fears for his life. Like kings in other lands, Solomon could have chosen to kill Adonijah, but instead he gave him a chance to recover and be a productive part of the kingdom. This mercy is filled with wisdom. Solomon gives his brother a chance to prove himself rather than launching his own kingdom with bloodshed or perhaps even civil war. Yet, he also indicates that Adonijah should make an effort to prove his loyalty rather than  just assuming that “no news is good news.”


The Brotherhood – Part 69

November 21, 2012 1 comment

The Brotherhood of the Second Cross was established on Father’s Day 2005 where 160 men stood before their wives and children to pledge themselves to purity, self-sacrifice, loyalty, and excellence. Today, hundreds more have joined the commitment.

Pride–it’s a somewhat slippery ideal.

Pride is what you feel when you step back and take a long look at a job well done. It’s that sense of satisfaction that helps you know your contribution was valuable to something important. So you glance across the yard as you finish the mowing and trimming or maybe you step back from a newly-cleaned garage and you marvel at how good it really looks. Nothing wrong with a little pride in a job well done.

Pride is when you look down on someone who’s made a few more bad choices than you have. You feel a bit superior, judging them for their failures. Such a posture helps block your view of your own weaknesses so it feels good to avoid glancing in that direction. Pride that helps me think I’m better than others, well, that’s not a good idea.

Pride is when I start believing I can do anything. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little self-confidence, but when it teaches me that all I really need is me–not so good. Pride can keep me from a much needed dependency on God and that’s a big step on a bad path. In fact, pride manages to lead most of the Bible’s lists of sins–the stuff God despises.

What’s the best defense against unhealthy pride–thankfulness.

Thankfulness gives credit to God for everything I have. Thankfulness recognizes that everything we have comes from Him and any ability I might possess to make things happen has that same Source. Thankfulness acknowledges how easy it can all be lost and applauds the God who holds it all together for me. Thankfulness keeps pride from swelling your head.

So as you settle in to your end chair at the Thanksgiving table and look on the faces of those God has given you, be thankful. Yes, you can be proud of their achievements and the joy that you bring to each others lives, but remind yourself that without the provision and grace of God, your table would be a lot emptier. Take pride in the life you’re enjoying, but add two parts of thankfulness for every ounce of pride that fills your heart.

We’re men who give our best strength to those we love and we do all we can to provide for their needs. But at the end of the day, we know where our help comes from, don’t we?

Notes from the Journey with David – 137

November 20, 2012 Leave a comment

137. As the Lord was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon (1 Kings 1:37).

Why do some leaders take satisfaction in the failure of their successors? Shouldn’t a real passion for the organization mean we want it to succeed well beyond our days? Sadly, some leaders fear the discovery that things can continue without them–even grow. This may be a final badge of character for the leader to demonstrate as he heads out the door, but he must cheer his successor and those he led as they face the future without him. Failure to do so reveals holes in the leader’s heart and a weakness that will cost him his legacy.


Categories: Leadership Journeys